Wednesday, September 18th, 2013...5:38 am
Thomas Gray, ’50
Thomas Gray, 84, of Fort Thomas, Ky., rode his beloved bicycle (or perhaps a
glider) up to heaven on Monday, September 16, finally free of the
Parkinson’s disease that had dogged him for 20 years. He was met by his
sister, Helen Gray Shattuck; and his parents, Freda and James. Tom was born
Sept. 4, 1929, in Lakewood, OH. He would want us not to cry for him but to
tell a joke or a funny story or perhaps make an off-color remark, because he
was a man who liked to smile and laugh and embrace life to the fullest.
That, and the love of his life, Gloria Root Gray, who he was married to for
62 years, is what kept him going the past two decades. Theirs was a
passionate marriage that began when the two went on a double date – with
others as dates – to the 1946 county fair in Berea, Ohio. Nothing kept them
apart after that. He graduated from Rocky River High School and Gloria
visited him at The Citadel, where he graduated in 1950 . They married Feb.
17, 1951, in Cleveland. Within four years they had three children, Amy (Tom
Hills), James (Nancy), and Kathy (Dennis Mahoney), and by 1956 moved to Ft.
Thomas after Tom became a manufacturer’s agent for Leviton. His easy smile,
friendly nature and strong work ethic made him a top salesman and his home
office meant he often was the only father at daytime school events. The
surprise baby, Tisha (Joe Bruemmer), came in 1960, completing the family he
was so proud of and who he supported with intense love, empathy and
education. Tom could repair just about anything and was the fix-it man for
the neighborhood, church and friends. He was a prankster, a musical theatre
aficionado and loved to tool around in his convertibles and hit the ski
slopes. He drove his family each summer to national park campgrounds from
coast to coast and enjoyed the Ohio River with his family on their
houseboat. He led them on the Morning Glory bike ride through Cincinnati,
learned to fly a glider, helped start the American Field Service student
exchange at Highlands and taught his family to repair what was broken rather
than throw it out. AFS student Glenda Anderson from New Zealand became his
fourth daughter, and he was “Pop” to his adoring grandchildren: Kit Gray,
Molly Steele; Emily Whittaker, Loren and Madeline Foster, Ryan, Stephanie
and Abby Hills; and Lydia and Lucy Bruemmer, and great grandson Thomas
Gray-Torsell. They learned the lesson of grace from Tom, a lesson taught by
the graceful way he handled each hour, day and year with his Parkinson’s.
Tom fondly remembered the WWII years when he lived in Beaufort, N.C., with
his mom and sister Jeanne, as his father served in the Navy. Tom served in
the Army Reserves for 5 years. The family would like to thank the wonderful
people who smoothed the way the last few years, especially caregivers Nancy,
Mindy and Niccole, and close friends Ken and Corrine White and Gloria Fausz.
Tom also is survived by his sister Jeanne of Brunswick; nieces Freda Sue
Balash, Gretchen Rhodes, Nancy Shattuck Miller and nephews Charlie Hoffman,
Gene Root. To further the research of Parkinson’s disease, Tom donated his
body to the UC College of Medicine Neurology Dept. A celebration of his life
will be held at 11 a.m., Sat., Sept. 21, First Presbyterian Church, 220 S.
Fort Thomas Ave., Ft. Thomas, followed by a celebratory noon luncheon. In
lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to First
Presbyterian Church, Ft. Thomas, Ky., or Gardner Center Fund for Parkinson’s
Disease and Movement Disorders, PO Box 670570, Cincinnati, OH 45267. Online
condolences may be sent at www.dmefuneral.com. Dobbling,
Muehlenkamp-Erschell Funeral Homes serving the family.